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File:GaiaGensouki 3452.jpg

Psychic Kid Hero and friends can breathe in space.

An Action Adventure game with RPG Elements for the Super Nintendo, developed by Quintet. Enix (now Square Enix) published the game in Japan, and Nintendo published it worldwide, with release dates of November, 1993 (Japan); September, 1994 (North America). It was released in Europe in April, 1995 under the title Illusion of Time. The game revolves around the adventures of Will, a boy with Psychic Powers who winds up having to Save the World from an ancient evil that wiped out the legendary civilizations of the past. The game never met the levels of success that Secret of Mana or Chrono Trigger did, probably because it is short, but it is still well-remembered by many.

Illusion of Gaia describes its setting as the "age of exploration". In practice, it's that special blend of Medieval European Fantasy and Victorian Britain that Eastern RPGs are fond of mixing up, with an extra dash of the Victorian plus an emphasis on Landmarks of Lore and explorers. The father of our Kid Hero, Will, is one such explorer. Father and son went on an expedition to the Tower of Babel, but a completely mysterious something went wrong and only Will made it back home. How, he doesn't know, but it did awaken his psychic potential, whatever it was.

Aside from the ESP, Will is an ordinary schoolboy. At least, he is until the day he meets two people - Gaia, the spirit of the earth... er, "source of all life", and Kara, a runaway princess. Before long, Will is on the run from Kara's sovereign parents and trying to stop a doomsday comet under Gaia's direction, all while trying to reunite with his missing father. Will's journey takes him through an assortment of (16-bit renditions of) real-world sites, such as Macchu Picchu, the Nazca lines, Angkor Wat, the Great Wall of China, and Egyptian pyramids.

Is the Spiritual Successor to Soul Blazer. Considered part of a trilogy which also includes Terranigma.

This game is an example of:

  • Advertised Extra: The descriptions and marketing of the game, and even the instruction manual, makes it sound like Lance, Eric and Seth had larger roles in the game than they actually do.
  • All There in the Manual: As literally as you can get. The manual actually has a walkthrough in it, including Red Jewel locations and help for most of the Guide Dang It moments.
  • All Up to You: Will has a large entourage of sidekicks; none of them ever participate in the actual gameplay (until the Fusion Dance at the end), but they manage to show up everywhere Will goes nonetheless.
  • Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: Serves as the site of the endgame...
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Shadow only.
  • Ancient Astronauts: Subverted. Including the Nazca Lines suggests this trope, but the spaceship is replaced by a flying city, and instead of aliens there are Sufficiently Advanced Alien Mutants.
  • Anyone Can Die: Subverted when it's revealed that Seth isn't actually dead. Played straight later on, with Hamlet's death being a major surprise.
  • Artificial Gravity: Seen on the Sky Garden, where you can jump off the edge and wind up walking upside-down on the underside with gravity pulling everything upward.
  • Art Initiates Life: Inverted; Ishtar's paintings trap people inside them.
  • Artistic License Biology: The game states that the way the comet causes rapid evolution is by speeding up time, so that the organisms mutate faster. However, organisms cannot evolve, only populations — once your chromosomes combine, you're stuck with that DNA. Granted, this could potentially work if it was mutating the organisms, similar to radiation, which is probably what was originally meant. Of course, in that case, it would not be the biological superweapon the spirits claim it to be, since it's extremely rare for radiation to result in positive mutations.
    • Another biology fail: They say that a camel's hump contains water. It does, in the sense that all organic matter does, but it's a storehouse for fat.
  • Beta Couple: Lance and Lilly.
  • Bittersweet Ending: As foreshadowed earlier in the game, the comet's light has an unnatural effect on the evolution of the planet itself. By defeating Dark Gaia, Will and Kara stop the cycle of destruction, enabling the world to assume its proper shape (real-life, modern-day Earth of the 1990s). Will and Kara go there to live new lives, with no memory of their adventures or feelings for each other. Happily, Will and Kara vow before returning to Earth to find each other - and the final scene of the game shows Will, Kara, Lance, Erik, and even Seth together again.
  • Blind Idiot Translation: The are numerous cases where the translator apparently doesn't understand which character is doing the talking.
    • Kara's name is even mistranslated in one scene.
  • Bonus Boss: Solid Arm, a.k.a. Metal Mantis, the first boss from Soul Blazer, the true form of Gem the Jeweler.
  • Book Ends: The game begins and ends with a scene of the hero and his friends at school.
  • Boss Rush: The end of the game forces you to fight every boss you've faced so far in succession, though you can still heal and save after a couple of them. At least the earlier ones are easier now that you're (a) using Shadow, (b) more powerful and carrying more health, and (c) presumably better at the game than you were when you first fought them all.
  • Bowdlerise: Slaves are never called slaves, they are laborers or servants instead. References to the cannibal tribe eating people were written out to the point that players wouldn't suspect they're a cannibal tribe. Most suggestions of polytheism are obscured.

 Kara: "It's as if we've become [1]..."

  • Bragging Rights Reward: You gain absolutely nothing for collecting all 50 red jewels aside from access to the Bonus Dungeon and its Bonus Boss. Oh, and you have to fight him using Will (instead of the stronger Freedan or Shadow) so it's probably a longer fight than most of the others put together.
  • Catch a Falling Star: Used and subverted.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience (goes hand in hand with Dark Is Not Evil): Subverted for most of the game, then double-subverted at the last minute.
  • Controllable Helplessness: There's nothing you can do to get out of the prison cell in Edward Castle faster, even though you can walk around and examine things. The same is true of the shipwreck sequence.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: To say that Rolek engages in shady activities is to say that the ocean is damp. That said, it may be because Neil's parents were replaced with demons.
  • Crap Saccharine World: Even without the impending doomsday, starvation, slavery, and human trafficking are widespread. Pointed out in-game that the nicest looking towns tend to have the seediest underbellies.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The names of most of Will's transformations and attacks indicate that his powers are darkness-based.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Kara, who gains a great deal of humility the longer she spends away from the castle.
  • Difficulty Spike: Mu, where the blobs and skeletons of previous levels are suddenly and unexpectedly replaced by rock-hard enemies that can become temporarily invincible, teleporting monsters with homing shots, a water depth puzzle, and a particularly difficult Dual Boss. Ankor (sic) Wat is another spike, though mercifully there isn't a boss at the end of it.
  • Dwindling Party: A (mostly) non-fatal version. Will's group grows to six members at some points, but they leave one or two at a time as the game nears its conclusion.
  • Dream Melody: Will has his grandmother's lullaby, which turns out to be the key to revealing her village of origin and an identifying call. Also, a couple dungeons have background music that turn out to be versions of other melodies.
  • Earth All Along: After defeating the comet, the world assumes its natural shape, which is that of present-day Earth.
  • Easy Amnesia: Lance suffers this at one point.
  • Eleventh-Hour Superpower: The Firebird ability from Will's Fusion Dance, as well as the ability to travel into space to stop the comet.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The Comet of Doom that drives the plot is responsible for the fall of many of the civilizations whose ruins Will explores. Will has to prevent it from happening again.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" / The Nameless: Your opponent in the drinking game is simply called "The Opponent".
  • Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: There is a tense moment with a school of sharks during the shipwreck, but it turns out that they're not hungry.
  • Evil Counterpart: Dark Gaia to Gaia.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Hamlet, then later Jackal, both of which get burned alive. The latter's is particularly gruesome.
  • Fetch Quest: The journey to Mt. Kress is one of these, as there's nothing about the quest or its objective that seems relevant to finding Mystic Statues or advancing to new areas. And when you do advance, you wind up going to Ankor Wat on another fetch quest... only this time the game doesn't even tell you that it's a fetch quest.
  • Floating Continent: The Sky Garden is a small one of these.
  • Follow the Plotted Line: Will's journey is fairly linear, although he does have at least an idea of where to go next.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Will's original band of friends form one of these.
    • Will - Choleric
    • Lance - Sanguine
    • Eric - Supine
    • Seth - Melancholic
  • Fusion Dance: The endgame, where Will's friends and the spirits of those who love and guide him join with him to power up his final form.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Inverted in that Illusion of Gaia is conscious of the Green Aesop, but Gaia is helpful, not vengeful.
  • Genius Loci: The game appears to subscribe the the Gaia Hypothesis concept of the Earth as a living organism. Organisms exposed the the comet's light mutate, and the Earth is no exception. This ends up being the explanation for why the game world is unlike the real Earth.
  • Ghost Lights: Will talks to dead people quite a bit. They take the form of tongues of spectral fire.
  • Giant Hands of Doom: The first boss attacks with these and Frickin' Laser Beams.
  • Giant Space Flea From Nowhere: Everything except the vampires and the Final Boss.
  • Guide Dang It: Finding the fifty red jewels, almost half of which can be Lost Forever.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: At the beginning of the game, Seth tells you to stand in front of the statue and use the L/R buttons.
  • Heroic Sacrifice / Someone Has to Die: Hamlet the pig allows himself to be cooked and eaten so a village doesn't have to starve.
  • Honor Before Reason: The opponent in the Russian Glass game drinks the only remaining (and therefore fatally poisoned) glass rather than forfeit the game. It turns out he's terminally ill and trying to go out with a bang while putting his family on easy street with his winnings.
  • Humans Are Bastards: The game occasionally likes to remind you that humans destroy the environment, mercilessly kill each other, and think themselves superior to giant man-eating fish. Furthermore, while the ending does show you saving the human race, it does take pains to remind you that "(T)he Earth was the only one that looked sad."
  • Hundred-Percent Completion: Collecting all fifty red jewels grants access to the game's Bonus Dungeon.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Will apparently bashes in his enemies' brains with a flute.
  • Indian Burial Ground: The major dungeons in the game are all ruins of ancient civilizations.
  • Instrument of Murder: Will's flute. In the pyramid, it sets off a sound-sensitive trap that reduces The Jackal to a flaming corpse and charred skeleton.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: Will can carry no more than sixteen items, and as you fill those slots with precious, finite Herbs, freeing up space for new quest items gets tricky late in the game. The 50 Red Jewels seem like a headache waiting to happen, but forunately they can be sent off to the Jeweler at any time.
  • Kid Hero: All of the protagonists appear to be in the neighborhood of 12-15 years old. Will is a bit taller than his friends, so presumably he is a little older, but definitely no older than 15. Will's cousin Neil is the only exception, appearing to be in his late teens or early twenties.
    • Lilly celebrates her 15th birthday at one point in the game, so it can be assumed that the ages of the other kids are in that area. Eric is likely the youngest, and Will is just a tad taller, so possibly older.
  • Law of One Hundred: Collect 100 DP to earn an extra life (up to 9), allowing you to respawn in the same room when you die (albeit not at full HP).
  • Lost Forever: The game's highly structured plot results in several points where the characters take one-way trans-ocean trips, making backtracking to collect items you might have missed (mostly those Red Jewels) impossible. The last of these occurs around the midpoint of the game, so after that you can actually skip something and go back for it.
  • The Maze: Mountain Temple. The manual even suggests drawing a map as you explore the area.
  • Message in a Bottle: Will and Kara find one...while adrift at sea themselves. You eventually get a chance to help the people who wrote the note when you storm the Diamond Mine and set them free. In return, they give you a healing song (for Lance's memories).
  • Mysterious Mercenary Pursuer: The Jackal chases Will throughout the game, but only shows up once near the end.
  • One of These Doors Is Not Like the Other: In some areas, there appears to be no door at all, but paying careful attention to the wind, or else the sound made by striking reveals the secret.
  • One-Winged Angel: The Final Boss has two forms.
  • Organic Technology: The endgame reveals that the comet is a Lost Superweapon created by an ancient civilization that mastered biotechnology and altered organisms to suit their needs. Shadow is another one of their products.
  • Platforming Pocket Pal: Lily's dandelion transformation ability lets her take cover in dungeons by hiding in Will's pocket.
  • Plot Coupon: The mystic statues.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: Kara.
  • Put on a Bus: Seth, who disappears abruptly when a giant sea creature attacks the Ghost Ship. He does reappear briefly later on, but in dialogue only, as he transformed into the same creature that sank the ship. Eventually, all the characters leave the party forever, and only Will and Kara see the quest through to its end.
  • Psychic Powers: Will's friends make a big deal out of his telekinetic powers early on. He also has some sort of ill-defined, seldom used predictive power that serves as a red flag in the Russian Glass game, and makes whatever wire you pick to disarm a bomb automatically correct.
  • Rainbow Speak: Every named character speaks in a text color different from the default blue-white text, as do a few nameless, but prominent, characters.
  • Rebellious Princess: Kara.

 "I too am a prisoner — in a prison of silk and gold."

  • Reincarnation Romance: Will and Kara, apparently.
  • Ret-Gone: Defeating Dark Gaia erases the comet from history, reversing the damage it caused.
  • Russian Roulette: The Russian Glass game. Your opponent is playing to lose.
  • The Sacred Darkness: Will's powers use Gaia's "Dark Energy", and there are no negative connotations associated with them. Not that there aren't bad darkness powers; the Final Boss is called "Dark Gaia".
  • Schrodinger's Gun: When presented with multiple choices, Will guesses correctly thanks to his psychic powers. No matter what option the player picks, the outcome is the same.
    • Early in the game, Will is asked to pick a card. No matter what the player picks, it is the right one.
    • Later in the game there is a Wire Dilemma, but both wires are the right one.[2]
    • The Russian Glass game does have a wrong answer, but you're given a chance to back out if you try it, unlike the safe glasses.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Getting rid of the comet.
  • Shapeshifting: Will has two different forms (apart from his usual one) he can assume, and Lilly can transform into a dandelion seed.
  • Shout-Out: Several to Enix's other SNES games.
    • The dog that rescues you is named Turbo.
    • The Skeleton head enemy from Act Raiser is in Angel Village.
    • The Moon Tribe looks like a spirit enemy from Soul Blazer.
    • Just watch a Let's Play of Act Raiser and count the number of enemies, themes, and other such goodies that were later used in Illusion of Gaia. For example, a statue that is somehow connected to a Crystal Dragon Jesus and its form being used to get through a level. Heck, even many of the sound effects are re-used between this game, Act Raiser, Soul Blazer, and Terranigma.
  • Show, Don't Tell: During the raft sequence; rather than show us exactly why Will suddenly falls in love with Kara, what he sees in her, etc., we're simply told that he "realized he had feelings for [her]". That's pretty much all we have to go on their romance.
    • Gaia even lampshades that despite how close they became over the course of their adventure, neither of them found anything interesting about each other at first, and they shouldn't be so obsessive about it. They find each other on the restored Earth, and though they are presumably happy together, it's doubtful they'll ever realize the relevance of it.
  • Space Elevator: The Tower of Babel. Possibly.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Angkor Wat is spelled 'Ankor Wat' in the game.
  • Spin to Deflect Stuff: Will's flute can block incoming attacks by spinning it. But then again, he does have telekinesis.
  • Spiritual Successor: To Soul Blazer (to the point where a leaked early translation was titled Soul Blazer: Illusion of Gaia). And Terranigma is one to this.
  • Swiss Army Hero: Will has three forms he can change between.
  • Sword Beam: Your Eleventh-Hour Superpower is functionally this. Sort of like in another Quintet game, and even more like the Phoenix magic.
  • Taken for Granite: An effect of exposure to the comet encountered in the Natives' Village (and referenced in Mu).
  • Team Pet: Hamlet, Kara's preternaturally smart pet pig.
  • Took a Shortcut: Muggle secondary characters can and will show up wherever the plot demands, no matter what extraordinary abilities Will has to use to achieve the same results. One of the kids that is established as being rather weak (both physically and mentally) is able to walk in through the very same door that Will had to use spin-dash jumps to reach.
  • The Unfought: Jackal.
  • Urban Segregation: The town of Freejia, with a well-to-do neighborhood facing the road... and a very poor slum and a slave market on the other side.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: You want all the Red Jewels? Hope you're okay with telling a slave-trader where his escaped slave is hiding.
    • At least you can take comfort in knowing that you'll soon break into the slave camp and free all the slaves, presumably including the one you turned in.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: It turns out that the approaching comet grants humanity amazing power, causing them to be driven mad and change into demons.
  • Yin-Yang Bomb: In the end, Will (the Knight of Darkness) and Kara (the Knight of Light) perform a Fusion Dance to become a souped-up version of the Dark Knight Shadow, with a new move, the Firebird.
  1. gods
  2. The bomb only explodes if the timer runs out and you haven't beaten the accompanying Dual Boss yet.